New manager Lee Clark is tasked with taking Birmingham City back into the Premier League this season, and Paddy Power make them 18/1 to do it as winners of the Championship.
Ins: Darren Ambrose (undisclosed amount), Hayden Mullins (undisclosed amount), David Lucas (free transfer), Peter Lovenkrands (free transfer)
Outs: Jordon Mutch (undisclosed amount), Ben Foster (undisclosed amount), Alpaslan Ozturk (released), Caleb Folan (released), Enric Valles (released), Cian Hughton (released), Luke Hubbins (released)
Strengths: Staying strong when looking pressure in the face. It is not easy keeping hold of your top players when you’re languishing outside of the Premier League. However, the Blues manager is not racing to panic stations yet. Clark told BBC West Midlands: “When you have good players like we have, you know they’re going to be courted. But the senior players I have here – I want to keep them all.” It’s not greed – it’s just smart management.
Weaknesses: The weight of the world on their shoulders. At least, that’s what it must feel like for any City fan. When the team slipped to the Championship at the end of the 2010/11 season, many fans expected them to dust themselves down and climb back into the upper echelon of English football the very next season. After that failed to transpire, one has to wonder how much longer fans will remain patient.
Last season’s performance: Blues did not have a bad season last term, finishing in fourth position and almost always certain of a play-off place. However, fans were crushed when their team could not put down the scrappy underdogs known as Blackpool, with the Seasiders condemning Birmingham to another season of Championship football.
If they were a celebrity: Kristen Stewart. They both make one mistake – albeit massive ones – and now they have the eyes of the world slap bang focused on what they’ll do next. Still, they are both fine to watch in their chosen crafts.
You might not have known: Move aside Joe Hart, there’s a new English sensation between the sticks. Birmingham City’s teenage goalkeeper Jack Butland impressed at the Olympics and is already putting in the kind of performances you would expect from a far more experienced player.
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